Submitted. An innovative mental health training project is being created right here in Mission, but its creators hope to see its eventual use across Canada. Called Community Cares, the purpose of the project is to create accessible mental health and addiction training for emergency responders and other community members who regularly interact with mentally ill or substance-addicted people. The training is free and will help ensure that people with mental health and addiction needs receive the care and services they need, especially during challenging times.
Fraser House, a Mission-based drug and alcohol treatment facility, is overseeing the project along with a host of community partners. Cynthia Coyle, executive director of Fraser House, says “The training will help those who regularly encounter people with mental illness or substance issues to expand their skills and knowledge, while breaking down some of the fears and myths about mental health that can cause barriers.”
The training will be offered both in the classroom at Riverside College and on-line, through Summit Learning Centre. “We are tremendously excited to develop this new course,” says Rick Fitch, principal of Summit, “Because it offers the community new tools for supporting people struggling with substance or mental health challenges. Our aim is to create a course that can be easily adapted for use in any city or town. We want Mission’s first responders to set a standard that other communities will try to follow.”
“Our lessons are meant to reach as many people as possible,” says Paul Horn, who is designing and teaching the course. “That’s why we have made it free and open to anyone who feels they can use these skills. More than police or medical workers, we think that includes teachers, clergy, retail business people, security guards and anyone in customer service. Family members of people with mental illness or addiction needs will also find the information invaluable.”
The training will be offered in 8 distinct modules, and will focus on local issues and resources. Registrants can take any or all of the sessions, and successful participants will receive certification for the modules they complete. “Each class takes just one evening,” explains Horn, “And students can choose classroom or on-line offerings, or they can combine them both. The course design is completely flexible; people can take as much or as little of the training as they need.”
The training project is the brainchild of the Mission Healthy Community Council, a consortium of health and social service agencies from across the region. The Healthy Community Council is jointly chaired by the District of Mission and Fraser Health.
The project is funded through a $45,000 grant from Community Action Initiatives, a provincial granting program. “We were thrilled to be successful in receiving this funding,” explains Coyle. “There was a very competitive field from across BC. This just goes to show that innovation is happening right here in Mission.” The CAI is a funding body created through a $10M contribution from the province of British Columbia. The CAI supports projects developed through collaborative community models that promote inclusive community action to respond to mental health and substance use. Fraser House Society was one of 13 organizations in BC to receive this funding.”